UPDATE. 40G DIY in-wall. Livestock Suggestions?

Dan0504

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Longtime viewer of these build threads. Wanted to start my own DIY project and thread. Repurposing an old tank that I had running for years.

Alright. . . Here we go again. . .

This is a real "budget" in-wall aquarium build. I have had this 40G breeder up and running as both a reef and a FOWLR tank since 2019. The plan right now is for a FOWLR tank.

STEP ONE: Tank is going to replace this built in entertainment unit. First I will rip out the in-wall cabinets. The concrete slab was a happy discovery. No need to do anything to the floor.


71452204991__54D182C0-3CBB-4039-B7DD-BB44B60262EF.jpg

Removed the countertop.

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Now the rest.

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STEP TWO: Repair and re-purpose old DIY stand. This is a classic "youtube" style stand. (FYI I reenforced with additional 2x4s that you can see in some of the next images) I just needed to cut them down to lower the tank height.

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STEP THREE: Add plywood and cheap carpeting under the tank to give the tank a nice even surface and avoid any future cracking. Also added some waterproofing under the tank for eventual leaking. Everything got stapled up nicely.

71470105117__3F422706-09FF-4539-9E7A-CF6D5A26950E.jpg


STEP FOUR: Plumbing. I forgot to take pictures of this stage. I glued and then used silicone on everything. This needs to be permanent and foolproof. I will only have limited access to the tank once the walls are sealed in. (Access through a 1'x1' hatch in the top, a 2'x2' AC Vent in the back, and a 2'x2' door in the front.

Here is one of the returns, there are two of them.

IMG_5173.jpg


Overflow box and 2 returns (That plumbing tape got fixed before silicone). . . Also, again sealed everything in a sickening amount of silicone.

B1119F8E-AB96-4746-B83A-1B5F258A4285.JPG


Placing an old DIY sump under the tank. It is a 20G high, with 4 chambers. Will go into more detail on the sump once the media and reactors arrive.

IMG_5262.jpg



STEP FIVE: Some terrible drywall work... Bear with me, I sanded the heck out of it!! Can also see that I reenforced the stand here with new 2x4s.

71476320802__03947D6A-5F52-4962-81C5-5DCA46E157A3.jpg


To be continued...
 
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Dan0504

Dan0504

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More Drywall. . .

71476469402__964B263E-4A3D-4FDB-AD23-D063C200B9D1.jpg


Sanding, putting in a door, and texture. (Not pictured, is large access area behind the tank).

IMG_5314.jpg


Baseboard, molding, and textured

IMG_5320.jpg


Also added an access hole in the top to make maintenance and cleaning possible.

IMG_5322.JPG


Ready for paint
 
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Dan0504

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Painted

IMG_5509.jpg


The Rear Vent

IMG_5510.jpg


Update: Filling with water. Will be testing for leaks for 2 weeks. Also, I spray painted all three sides black at this point. Not pictured, but necessary to hide the empty space between the tank and walls.

IMG_5506.jpg
 
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Dan0504

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Update:

Tank is full. No leaks so far. Running with just RODI water, while I wait for salt to arrive.

IMG_5517.jpg


Here is the RODI setup installed under my bathroom sink

IMG_5511.jpg

I cut a piece off the product line to install a ball valve for easy on/off, so this is correct even though this 1/4" line should be red.

IMG_5512.jpg

IMG_5513.jpg
 

JayM

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Looks pretty good so far, but a couple of things come to mind.

The brass barbed fitting on what I assume is your return plumbing will be a problem at some point.

I personally would have leak checked before starting the drywall. It’s gonna suck if you have an issue. Hopefully you won’t.
 

cilyjr

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You can access this display tank from behind through the stamp face grill?

I would like to better understand your process of for being able to access this tank for maintenance and cleaning.

When I put my tank into the wall at my old house The best advice someone had given me was make sure you can access from both the front and the back. I took that seriously and was glad I did.
 
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Dan0504

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Looks pretty good so far, but a couple of things come to mind.

The brass barbed fitting on what I assume is your return plumbing will be a problem at some point.

I personally would have leak checked before starting the drywall. It’s gonna suck if you have an issue. Hopefully you won’t.

Yeah, you're not wrong! Praying that sealing all the bulkheads in silicone will be enough for now. Good to know, I will replace that brass fitting for PVC.
 
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Dan0504

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You can access this display tank from behind through the stamp face grill?

I would like to better understand your process of for being able to access this tank for maintenance and cleaning.

When I put my tank into the wall at my old house The best advice someone had given me was make sure you can access from both the front and the back. I took that seriously and was glad I did.

Yeah, looking back, I think access is going to have to be increased. I have 3 solid access points right now. There is a large hole over the top of the tank.

IMG_5518.jpg


I can access the entire lid/light/bulkheads from the top hatch.

IMG_5520.jpg


and this is the sump access from the front door (Need to do some wire management in here, but still waiting on some parts).

IMG_5521.jpg


Here is the rear vent in the bathroom behind the tank, which is also a giant hole. Might consider turning this whole closet into an access/work area though. (Since the tank is just on the other side of this drywall).

IMG_5522.jpg
 

Cichlid Dad

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Yeah, looking back, I think access is going to have to be increased. I have 3 solid access points right now. There is a large hole over the top of the tank.

IMG_5518.jpg


I can access the entire lid/light/bulkheads from the top hatch.

IMG_5520.jpg


and this is the sump access from the front door (Need to do some wire management in here, but still waiting on some parts).

IMG_5521.jpg


Here is the rear vent in the bathroom behind the tank, which is also a giant hole. Might consider turning this whole closet into an access/work area though. (Since the tank is just on the other side of this drywall).

IMG_5522.jpg
If you used bath and kitchen silicone, that is not reef safe, asking only because I've never seen aquarium safe white silicone
 
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Dan0504

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What silicone did you use for the sump? Looks like regular bath and kitchen.
If you used bath and kitchen silicone, that is not reef safe, asking only because I've never seen aquarium safe white silicone

I can't remember. I built the sump like 5-10 years ago, never had a problem, but probably not reef safe.

I will need to replace with reef-safe or new sump as well.
 
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cilyjr

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If you used bath and kitchen silicone, that is not reef safe, asking only because I've never seen aquarium safe white silicone
I disagree with a few caviats...
Any 100% silicone product will be "reef safe" once completely cured.
The first part is it's 100% silicone. The second part, completely cured sometimes takes several weeks. When silicones list a 24-hour drying time they need a bead and 1/8 of an inch thick. We are doing beads of silicone several times thicker than that.

I have seen threads and had lots of discussions about products that say they have a mold inhibitor. Silicone is naturally a mold inhibitor. So it is easy for a company to label their product as such.

That said, the last time I did any real research on this was about 2017, I poured through several SDS sheets with a few other members to find anything in silicone products available that would indicate a mold inhibiting additive. We found nothing. Could things have changed since then quite possibly but I am not aware of it.
 

cilyjr

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As far as accessing the tank, I believe you are making it very difficult for future you. Anytime you need to quickly reach in there to fix something that has fallen over etc it's going to be a 30 minute process.
I say this not too criticize so much as to give you some thought before it would be an even bigger project to cut in some extra access over the top of the display tank.

Lots of people will use cabinetry over the top as well. Here is an example of my previous 180.
20171108_190820.jpg

This was suggested to me by a friend who had a 300 gallon in wall who had not put any way to access the tank from the front viewing area. He had regretted that and seriously suggested I do it.
 
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Dan0504

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As far as accessing the tank, I believe you are making it very difficult for future you. Anytime you need to quickly reach in there to fix something that has fallen over etc it's going to be a 30 minute process.
I say this not too criticize so much as to give you some thought before it would be an even bigger project to cut in some extra access over the top of the display tank.

Lots of people will use cabinetry over the top as well. Here is an example of my previous 180.
20171108_190820.jpg

This was suggested to me by a friend who had a 300 gallon in wall who had not put any way to access the tank from the front viewing area. He had regretted that and seriously suggested I do it.
You were right! Changing that brass barb was miserable.
2646280E-0747-418F-92C9-9AA6C1B6C71C.jpeg


Yup. . . That’s another giant hole in the drywall
 
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cilyjr

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You were right! Changing that brass barb was miserable.
2646280E-0747-418F-92C9-9AA6C1B6C71C.jpeg
What is the odds you can take the entire wall out of that closet. You could put the shells back in things could still be stored in there. And if you wanted to you could actually put a piece of plywood between the tank and that closet that would be easily removable. Still a pain in the butt but way less so than trying to work through that tiny square.
You seem fairly handy. I would consider building a couple of doors directly over the tank that you could access from the front it will still look clean and built in
 
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What is the odds you can take the entire wall out of that closet. You could put the shells back in things could still be stored in there. And if you wanted to you could actually put a piece of plywood between the tank and that closet that would be easily removable. Still a pain in the butt but way less so than trying to work through that tiny square.
You seem fairly handy. I would consider building a couple of doors directly over the tank that you could access from the front it will still look clean and built in
This is pretty close to the new plan!
 

cilyjr

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This is pretty close to the new plan!
If you are thinking of building the doors to go over the top of your tank I would suggest two things.
1. Consider buying a prefabbed door for a cabinet. Building this from scratch is not for beginners as silly as it seems.
2. Whether you buy one or build it make sure one of the doors has an overlap on the lip this will stop any light bleed from pouring into the room around the cracks.
When I did mine, I used felt to seal the gap. But you could use any weather strips you wanted.
 
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Dan0504

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What silicone did you use for the sump? Looks like regular bath and kitchen.
UPDATE SUMP SILICONE

Got a few comments on the white silicone. Ordered some aquarium safe silicone in order to be safe.

87A158A4-08CF-46D9-8C8C-0D67DA3716DE.jpeg


Scraped as much of the old silicone as I could, completely covered any remaining silicone in the aquarium safe stuff.



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This time I used acrylic to create the baffles. I know silicon doesn’t bond to acrylic, but hopefully I use enough to keep everything in place with friction. We shall see!

35C60AFC-B23A-4CF9-A5D6-4B16E204B167.jpeg


Don’t mind the silicone mess! I will clean it up with a razorblade tomorrow!
 

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